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December 27, 2007 – Afternoon – Kowloon – Victoria Harbour

sunny 69 °F
View The Scholar Ship on mpho3's travel map.

December 27, 2007 – Afternoon – Kowloon – Victoria Harbour

The tendering vessel ferried us to Royal Caribbean’s Oceanic II, now The Scholar Ship. If my ferry trip of the morning was unexpectedly brief, this second journey was longer than I expected, lasting about 25 minutes. Basically we travelled to the “back side” of Hong Kong Island, and we all got psyched when we saw our little big ship! It’s definitely not one of the biggest cruise ships out there, but it is impressive nonetheless. We were all a little bit giddy and pleased with ourselves, but that was before we navigated the actual getting on to the ship. The smaller vessel basically pulled up alongside the bigger ship, to which was teathered a floating platform located below the gangplank jutting out from the ship and hovering about 15 feet above the water. Both ships were rising and falling with the tides, and the gap between the ships was about 12 inches. This would be daunting for a newbie under any circumstances, but we had our luggage in tow. I envisioned my suitcase of vitamins glug glugging its way to the bottom of the sea after taunting me by staying afloat for just long enough to give me hope that it could be fished out. Yet despite my own worries, I almost cracked up when the woman in front of me almost took a nose dive into the drink. I was next, so I immediately sobered up. I decided not to look down. I grabbed hold of the first rung and waited until both boats sank down at the same time, and then I hoisted myself as if sharks were on my ass.

We trooped into the reception area, and for a moment I had to remind myself that I was on a ship. It looked just like hotel lobby. We checked in at the “reception” and then were taken to our rooms, and the giddiness returned. I’ve got a private room, with two twin size beds and two fold down twin size bunks, ie. a room that could accommodate four people though its about the same size of the room I’ve been living in at Shannon and John’s for the past four months. I’ve got a port hole. I’ve got a television, not that I think I’ll be using it much, but who knows. I’ve a refrigerator. And I have a private bathroom with full tub and shower. Though we do pay a nominal fee for laundry, we don’t pay for having our rooms cleaned daily, including the bathroom and receiving fresh linens. Niiiiiiiiice.

We received a tour of the ship, and it’s awesome. Truly. Three swimming pools. A sauna (glory be to God!). A spa with a full array of bodywork services (most hour-long massages are $65/hr.). Two fitness centers – one all cardio and the other cardio and weights (in Kilos). Two bars. Dining halls. 5 Decks. A medical facility. And the Learning Resource Center is actually bigger and much less claustrophobia-inducing than I expected. Everyone speaks highly of G., to whom I will report and several returnees have said that they think we’ll get along really well because we both seem to be laid back. I have not yet met her because she took some time off between the two voyages, the preceding one having ended on Dec. 23 – not much of a turn around time.

Oh – and the subject of returnees – a lot of people are doing a double stint, which appears to be a policy change from what I was told. When I was hired, I was told that staff and faculty could only apply for a position once every four years. However, this is very much a work in progress so I’m guessing that they seen the wisdom of having some continuity. It’s just an interesting thing for me to keep in mind as I evaluate my own experience. There’s a possibility that I could do another stint, perhaps even in a different role. But I haven’t a clue as to how well suited I will be to the whole shebang.

So far, everyone has been great, though. I feel like I’ve struck up a good camaraderie with a few people, including M., an Intercultural Residence Advisor (IRC) from Mexico; D., an IRC from San Diego; and there are more people to come. We’ve got a few more days to ourselves before the students arrive and a somewhat rigorous training schedule until then. The main groups of staff members are the Academic Staff, i.e faculty and associated staff such as myself; Onboard Life, inc. the eight Intercultural Residence Counselors, the Rec guy and the Psychologist, a lovely Egyptian woman. The IRCs are young people from different countries, kind of like RA’s in U.S. universities and colleges; and Academic Support/Port Programs (the people who help establish the shore side relationships for the Academic Field Trips.

Some people have brought their children, though there aren’t too many. Some people have brought spouses. The overall staff make up seems to be pretty diverse, so it should be interesting.

Posted by mpho3 19:55 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged preparation

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